Facebook is often used as the main competitor to Google’s social network offering, Google+, but Twitter is often left out of the equation. However, once Google plus reaches public beta, it may prove to be more than a worthy alternative. Both services offer similar features such as the ability to “follow” other users, instantly receive updates from them and the ability to mention other users. Will Google+ one day take over market-share from Twitter? Not a doubt, and it’s only a matter of time.
Some of Twitter’s shortcomings
For new users and even frequent users, Twitter can be confusing to use. The concept of Retweeting, Hash tags and Mentions never really caught on with me, personally. It’s hard for a newcomer to grasp them without looking for help on Google. This fact is especially important considering that over 73% of Twitter users published less than 10 status updates, ever.
The design of twitter’s system itself prevents meaningful conversation and direct communication to develop. It gets hard to keep track of a conversation using mentions, and direct communications only works when both users follow each other.
Twitter is frequently used to get updates from celebrities and brands… not so much from mutual friends. It’s a one-way communication that leaves the user out of the conversation. Pretty hard for the average user to get noticed from the celebrity in a sea of tweets.
Lastly, Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per tweet greatly limits the complexity of status updates that occur and forces many users to shorten their language by overusing abbreviations.
How can Google+ overcome them
Similar to Facebook, Google plus’s comment system is relatively easier to use compared to Twitter. Instead of mentions, the comment is placed within a “thread” under the status update. Therefore, it should be easier to keep track of an conversation and allows meaningful discussion between users.
The biggest feature with Google+ is probably the ability to create a distinction between friends and people we follow using Circles. You can still be in touch with friends and relatives while getting updates from “celebrities”. It’s a nice hybrid between Facebook and Twitter; you can still share with friends while retaining more freedom and privacy.
Google+ does not have a character limit for status updates. That means no more impossible to decipher messages and horrible grammar and more complexity in messages. It could even be the main selling point of Google+ against Twitter in my opinion.
For now, Twitter still has the advantage of a bigger user-base. However, more than half of Twitter accounts are inactive and Google+ is still undergoing an explosive growth (10M users reached in two weeks). Once Google+ achieves a critical mass and “celebrities” signs up en masse, Twitter users could very well flock away.
Another disadvantage of Google+ is that only people can sign up, unlike Twitter. That means it is impossible for companies and brands to maintain a presence on the social network. Google currently plans to open its doors for businesses later this year, so this won’t be a problem for long.
The web is a dynamic place, and there’s still plenty of time for both websites to improve and adapt to the competition. It’s impossible to be completely sure whether Twitter’s downfall is incoming or not. Google has a solid track record in creating great services like GMail, and I think we can add Google+ to the list once it goes public.